How To Test A Starter Motor
A failing starter motor can become extremely time-consuming and an inconvenience on numerous levels for most drivers.
However, understanding what your vehicle's starter motor is and how to properly perform testing, can help you to better maintain or replace any faulty parts that may restrict Performance.
In the most simplified form, a starter motor acts as the mechanical component that starts your vehicle's engine.This mechanical component works in a rotational motion, which creates an internal-combustion that starts the engine of your vehicle. Once the duty of the starter motor is complete, the engine of your vehicle relies on self ability.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Failing Starter
- Your vehicle not being able to properly start or not start at all is probably one of the most common signs.
- The lights and accessories of your vehicle functional while the engine remains silent proves means that power remains present. This results from the starter restricting power from the engine.
- Grinding noises are an indication that the starter is worn out.
- Smoke from your vehicle's starter indicates a blown fuse. Upon identifying smoke- a bad smell is usually accompanied by this.
Determining The Fault Of Your Starter Can Be Identified By The Following:
Inspect the pinion of your vehicle -
Start by switching on your vehicle's headlights and then proceed with attempting to start the engine. This may result in two ways:
- Should you hear a noise from your vehicle's engine, while the headlights become dim, the starter pinion is most likely unable to move freely.
- However, should you hear a clicking sound without any signs of starting, while the headlights become dim, your vehicle's battery is most likely to be at fault.
Conduct An Electrical Test
Your vehicle's starter can be found at the side of the engine's block. Inspect the starter for the stud of the pinion. This is usually small in size and square in shape. By using an adjustable spanner, turn this stud until there is free movement. Give your vehicle a start once the pinion is free enough for movement. It is best to refer to your vehicle's manual if you have a newer model vehicle. This better indicates the components of your vehicle.
In the case of a manual transmission vehicle, ensure that the engine is first switched off and placed into second gear.
To loosen the pinion, proceed to drop the hand (emergency) brake and then gradually rock your vehicle in a back and forth motion.
Examine Your Vehicle's Engine By Paying Close Attention To The Battery's Terminals
Corrosion and a buildup of dirt may result in poor power distribution to your vehicle's starter. Use a wire brush on your battery to clean the connections- ensure that the battery is disconnected before cleaning. In newer model vehicles, the batteries are covered by protective plastic more especially against metal contact. This is as metal-metal contact works as a conductor of electricity. Remove the protective layer from the battery for proper inspection.
Using A Multimeter To Test The Battery's Voltage, Any Reading That Exceeds 12v Proves As Incompetent.
It is significant to note that the physical condition of a battery is invalid- as it is the wires that conduct power to the starter. Ensure that the earth strap of the battery is secured to the vehicle at all times. This serves essentially in the appropriate execution of a property running starter. Should the battery of your vehicle perform as functional, although the engine does not start - refer to the solenoid.This component is located at the top of the starter. The solenoid is small in size and cylindrical in shape.
Ensure all wires are intact, if not, reconnect them and attempt starting your vehicle again. If you are unsure of correct wiring, consult a professional /trusted mechanic.
● Test the current of the solenoid by using a circuit test. Attach the test to the solenoid feed terminal and the other lead to bare metal.
Note if there is no light from the circuit test, this is a result of poor wiring connection. Be sure to rewire and pay close attention to the functionality of the ignition switch.
● To test the output current of the solenoid - place the lead of the circuit test on the solenoid output and the other lead on the battery's earth terminal. No lights from the circuit test must mean that your vehicle's starter solenoid needs to be bench tested.
Bench Test The Starter Motor
In the event of the pinion and battery not performing up to expectation, it is most likely that your vehicle's starter is at fault.
- Carefully remove the starter from the engine to perform adequate testing.
- All bolts and wires are expected to be reassembled in an exact manner that removal is performed. Should you become uncertain of the reassembling process, it's always best to refer to an owner's manual mechanic.
- Using jumper cables, match the red jumper to the positive battery terminal. The other cable attaches to the thick positive post of the starter's solenoid.
- Attach the black jumper cable to an ear of the starter while connecting the other cable to the battery's negative terminal.
- Using an insulated wire, first strip and attach one end to the starter's terminal. Do not attach the other end just yet.
- Place the starter on a flat surface and firmly hold it down using your foot. This will prevent your starter from moving unnecessarily. Sparks are expected. Take caution when testing is performed.
- Attach the other end of the insulated wire from the starter's terminal to the battery's positive terminal.
You should expect a back and forth rotary motion. In the case of performance not being up to expectation, the starter requires replacement. However, should there be a spinning motion only, seek a professional mechanic's advice to advise you best.
List of tools required to perform testing :
- Adjustable Spanner
- Circuit Test
- Insulated Wires
- Jumper Cables
- Starter Motor
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